October 02, 2011

2011 AL Goose Gossage Award

As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance I get to vote for the major awards.  I have already posted my AL winners for the Connie Mack (manager), Walter Johnson (pitcher) and Willie Mays (rookie) awards.  Today I tackle the Goose Gossage award handed out to the top reliever.   This was a tough one.  What to look at?  Saves? ERA? WAR?    Ultimately I used a combination of numbers and non statistical measures of what they meant to their team.

The winner of the 2011 AL Goose Gossage award goes to....

#1: David Robertson - yes, I know he's not a closer.  But he had a 1.08 ERA while holding 34 games for Rivera to save.  The Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to be that guy, but he struggled before going on the DL, and Joba Chamberlain also went to the DL early in the year, and Robertson filled that void admirably.  With a shaky starting rotation, the Yankees needed a bridge to get to Mo, and Robertson was a huge part of that.

#2: Jonathan Papelbon - after struggling the last couple of seasons, went back to being that near-automatic guy Sox fans could count on.   Until the last game of the season, anyways. Sigh.

#3: Mariano Rivera - Just another oh-hum season from him with a sub 2 ERA and 40+ saves.  But my gut told me that without Robertson he might not have had the chance to save as many games.  And I think I'm vindicated in ranking him lower, as he ended up with a WAR of 2.4 to Robertson's 2.8.

A quick word on guys who I considered but didn't pick:

Jose Valverde led the world in saves.   But saves are a very overrated (some would say meaningless) stat.  In fact, according to some advanced metrics, he wasn't even the most valuable member of the bullpen in the Motor City.

Brandon League blew 5 saves and lost 5 more games.   That's a lot of missed opportunities.

Dan Bard could have been the Sox version of David Robertson.  He started slow, was lights out in the middle of the season, and ended dismally.  If he played like he did in the middle of the season  all year he'd get serious consideration.  Actually, his season sort of mirrored that of his team. If the Red Sox played all year like they did in the middle, oh, never mind, I still can't talk about it.

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